Mon. Jul 22nd, 2024

Why Obazee Report Is Deeply Steeped In Politics

By Sola Odewole

There’s something about the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) that seeks to defy logic and commonsense. Even worse, it belies progressivism.

Although this practice is not alien to Nigeria’s contemporary politics, the now opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) once had a whiff of such political demagoguery.

Unfortunately, in the case of the APC, it appears the agreed standard for its existential political opportunism. And the days ahead, seems more inauspicious

The story of Jim Obazee, President Bola Tinubi’s beloved investigator, who is looking into the activities of the Central Bank of Nigeria, among others, is a Google search away.

As then head of the Financial Reporting Council of Nigeria (FRC), Obazee was sacked by former President Muhammadu Buhari. His sack followed the implementation of his agency’s law, which led to the exit of Pastor E.AAdeboye as the active General Overseer of RCGG.

But before Buhari showed him the exit door, Obazee, who was allegedly used by former President Goodluck Jonathan to author a report that formed the basis for the suspension and eventual removal of Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, as CBN governor, had several allegations of graft and misuse of funds belonging to the FRC, to contend with.

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) was reviewing multiple petitions against Obazee, after he was accused of using proxies and phoney consultants to siphon millions of naira belonging to the FRC.

The EFCC was investigating the N1billion International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS) Academy fund as well as over N225 million wastefully expended for the printing of FRC registration certificates for use by the agency for the next two decades through proxies fronting as contractors.

According to an online news portal, THEWILL, allegations of corruption against Obazee first emerged in 2014, when a home he purchased in cash with funds allegedly received from the hatchet job he did for Mr. Jonathan in 2014 was uncovered in Houston-Texas.

Harris County Appraisal District records listed Obazee as purchaser of the over $100,000 home located at 15918 Mission Village DR Houston Texas 77083. But following the defeat of Jonathan in the 2015 presidential election by Buhari, Obazee had swiftly transferred ownership of the property to one Omosigho Victor, a fellow Bini native, believed to be holding the property in trust for him.

Obazee is still believed to have unrestricted access to the property. While it was not clear whether or not he listed the house in his asset declaration form as demanded by law, he was busted by the unrelenting online news portals.

It was why the EFCC was said to be conducting a discreet investigation into the books of the FRC to unravel how Obazee allegedly appropriated over N36 million in 60 days in 2014 for only local travel to Abuja, claiming to be investigating the books of the CBN.

Curiously, this was the same man President Tinubu found worthy to investigate alleged malfeasance at the CBN. The fact that a man sacked by his predecessor from the same party was his choice for such a job, was already suspect.

Whatever informed that choice, was arguably not in collective good but to serve, perhaps, some interest, more so when none of the allegations against him had been cleared, including why he was sacked from FRC.

It was no wonder, therefore, that the report released on the investigation of the CBN, has begun to generate serious criticisms, which are beginning to make nonsense of his efforts and expose what may appear the latent intentions behind the probe, ab initio.

The trio of Godwin Emefiele, former CBN governor, who is being investigated; former Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Boss Mustapha, who has been mentioned derogatively in the report and the Tropical General Investments (TGI) Group, which spoke for Union Bank, have all come out to dispute all the claims against them.

Emefiele, who responded to the series of allegations in the report, dismissed every bit of it in a statement, hours after he regained his freedom from the Kuje Correctional Center.

“Having gone through the publications, and I say boldly that the contents of the said publications are false, misleading and calculated to disparage my person, injure my character and to serve the selfish interest of the private investigator,”he said, in part.

Speaking, too, Mustapha, who denied reports of alleged involvement in illegal withdrawal of $6.3 million from the CBN, dismissed the allegations as outrageous, unsubstantiated and malicious fabrication.

The former SGF, who claimed to have served the nation with dedication and transparency, and that his record spoke for itself, vowed never to allow “this baseless and defamatory attack” go unchallenged. I demand a thorough and transparent investigation into this matter.

“Let the relevant authorities probe the source of these fabricated documents and expose those responsible for this malicious attempt to damage my reputation. I have nothing to hide and welcome any legitimate investigation that sheds light on the truth.”

On its part, Tropical General Investments (TGI) Group, alsoclarified the aspect where Obazee linked the group’s ownership of Titan Trust and Union Banks to Emefiele.

A statement issued by the TGI’s Head of Corporate Communications, Ms. Rafiat Gawat, stated that, some of the assumptions made in the purported document were incorrect, thereby resulting in a conclusion that may not necessarily reflect the actual reality.

It pointed out that Union Bank was not owned by the government, adding that no government money through the CBN or AMCON was used to buy it contrary to claims made by Obazee.

Therefore, when considered from an objective standpoint, if it had only taken a few hours – not more than two – to logically tear down what Obazee spent several weeks coupling together, traveling to places for and writing to invite people for interrogation, then, it is dead on arrival.

Much as there is the argument, bordering on the legal backing for the Obazee initiative, especially when the EFCC could have easily undertaken the assignment, it is evident that the report was not just a poor “work to answer” but one steeped in politics by design.

– Odewole wrote from Lagos and can be reached at [email protected]

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